France: Pet owners warned about lost pet scam

Gendarmerie in the Var have warned of scammers targeting the owners of lost pets on website Pet Alert, and demanding payment for the animal’s ‘safe return’

22 November 2020
A dog looks sad while on a lead. Pet owners in France beware: Lost pet website scam alertThe scammers are preying on vulnerable pet owners by pretending to have their animal in return for a ransom payment
By Hannah Thompson

Police in France are warning of scams on lost pet website Pet Alert, after a series of fraud cases were reported in the Var, with fraudsters claiming to have found lost pets and demanding money for their return.

Gendarmerie in the Var raised the alert after finding evidence of a series of scams on the website. Scammers contact pet owners who have lost their animals, and pretend to have found their lost pet. They then demand a payment for the safe return of the animal.

Of course, in reality the scammers do not have the pet, and are preying on vulnerable owners.

The gendarmerie say that the fraudsters obtain the contact details of owners via Facebook, and learn that they have lost a pet through the website Pet Alert.

Pet Alert has said that it declines all responsibility for these scams, and warns users to remain alert.

On its Facebook page, the website called on users to “share information and to stay vigilant”.

Users who may have lost a pet are warned to not pay to be reunited with their animal - and certainly not to pay anyone who does not have proof that they have found the pet, or who is blackmailing the owner first. 

Owners are advised to see and safely pick up their animal in the flesh first - ideally from a public place - before exchanging any suggested cash or reward. Anyone who does not agree to this is likely not genuine.

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